ST. CLAIRSVILLE - When it comes to track and field, good weather and high-level competition usually lead to an entertaining meet.
Such was the case Saturday as the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrapped up its five-day stay at Red Devil Stadium, crowning its track and field champions for the 2013 season.
Times were fast, distances were far and heights were high as more than 40 schools locked horns for the course of 18 sun-drenched events to decide who was the best in the conference and some familiar names, both individually and in the team rankings, proved to be the cream of the crop once again.
The Wheeling Park Patriots, who won only one event, captured the 5A and overall title with 104.5 points. Linsly was second overall and won the 3A title in the process, posting 79.5 points.
As many expected, an event-for-event battle developed in Class 4A, which put five teams inside the overall top 10. However, when the dust settled it was Meadowbrook, which outlasted Martins Ferry, despite the Purple Riders' meet-high five championships, 78-75.5.
In the small-school battle, relative OVAC newcomer Clay-Battelle claimed the team title with 38.5 points, which was five ahead of defending Class 1A champion Valley.
IN CLASS 4A, it was a battle throughout the day as each event saw jockeying on the team scoring leaderboard as Meadowbrook, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Harrison Central and Steubenville all put forth solid meets.
The Colts, however, led the way and claimed the school's third OVAC title and first since 2008 with the win.
Meadowbrook, which won the first event of the day thanks to sophomore Darren McCaughan in the long jump, had to overcome the Purple Riders' impressive showing that was highlighted by four victories and a runnerup finish.
"What our boys are doing with basically seven guys (scoring), I can't speak highly enough about what they're doing," Materkoski said. "Our usual suspects came out and got us going on the field. We've basically only got one junior (Brian Styles) scoring on the track and the rest are sophomores, which I think speaks volumes for what could happen in the future around here."
The Purple Riders, who scored nary a point in a distance event, got off to a strong start thanks to an 18.5 point day from senior standout Sean McGee. He defended his shot put title with a meet-record toss of 53-8 1/2. He was second in the discus with a twirl of 151-ft-2.
Senior Cody Schau continued to be the area's premier high jumper. He won the title by soaring over 6-ft-0 for the gold.
On the track, the Purple Riders turned to the speed foursome of Styles, Hunter Hill, Andrew Watts and Jack Fitch. The quartet turned in a 1:32.32 to re-write the OVAC recordbook and take the 4x2 gold.
A short-time later, the same foursome turned in a 44.30 to win the 4x100 relay.
Other overall champions that came from Class 4A included Steubenville's shuttle team of Michael Diaz, Joey Nodianos, Oko Anyabwile and Garon Lytle. The team posted a sizzling 58.66 to prevail.
St. Clairsville senior Drake Walker, who won the 800 title last season, added the 1600-meter gold to his collection. He circled the oval four times in a meet-record 4:28.33 to prevail.
The Red Devils' junior speedster Jaylon Brown notched his first individual OVAC title. He posted a 10.89 to edge Big Red junior Robert Hayden, who won the slower heat in 10.91, for the title. Brown was scratched from the 200 after experiencing tightness in his hamstring.
IN CLASS 3A, the Linsly Cadets approach the OVAC as other schools approach their respective postseasons. It's as good as it gets for the Cadets.
Linsly, which won the 2A title the last two seasons, bumped up a division and made no difference. Coach James Cowart's team was the dominant squad in the 3A field, outdistancing runner-up Barnesville by 37.5 points.
"The guys knew coming in that it was going to be tough," Cowart said. "These guys have worked hard all year and this is the goal from day one, so they went out and got it. We stressed to our guys that they had to place well on Tuesday and Thursday or Saturday would have been ultra-tough for them."
Fueling the Cadets was a one-two finish in the 200 meter dash. Jamal Ebanks ran the half-lap dash in 22.95, which just edged out senior teammate Chinello Oparanozie.
The Cadets' speed also led them to a third-place finish in the 4x2. The team of Robert Felton, Mike Hammond, Zak Kriechbaum and Ebanks posted a 1:35.11.
The runner-up Shamrocks were led by an individual champion. Senior Jacob Anderson, who is the area's premier 300 meter hurdler, provided the spark. The West Liberty signee re-wrote the intermediate hurdle recordbook when he posted a 39.40, which is 49 hundredths better than his previous personal best that he ran during the qualifying round.
IN CLASS 1A/2A, the CeeBees captured their first-ever OVAC title since joining the conference in 2011.
Leading the way was the individual championship of Nathan Tolley in the 400 meter dash.
Runner-up Valley received a strong meet from senior standout Spencer Mason in the throwing events to finish a close second. St. John Central Garrett Holubeck turned in a school-record 50.79 clocking to finish second in the 400.
IN CLASS 5A, the Patriots stood tall in the big-school division for the 24th time in their history and have now won 10 straight championships.
"We thought we could be in the running (for the overall)," said Patriots' head coach Chris Daugherty. "We lost Markeith O'Neal with an injury on Tuesday, so we questioned whether we could pull it off, but we were able to because the kids worked so hard and they stepped up. We got some points that we didn't necessarily expect, so it was a team effort as always."
The Patriots proved it to be a team sport by the fact that they scored in 14 evnts, including capping the title when the team of Jaleel Brown, Maurice Miller, Austin Farley and Brandon Porter posted a 3:31.93 to win the 4x4 crown.
Park managed to finish second in the shuttles, 300 hurdles (Farley), 4x2, high hurdles (Farley), 4x800 and pole vault (Chase Bonar).
"We scored in the hurdles, sprints, the field, distance and that's what it takes if you're going to win this thing," Daugherty said. "You're not going to walk in here with just sprints or just field. You need a well-rounded team and that's what we have."